Suppliers of building products are always anxious to land a “big fish.” Most are well aware that the development of long-term relationships with the larger builders and construction companies in the area is the key to attracting many of the smaller fish in the pond, as well. However, even in cases where the supplier has the best possible online marketing strategy already in place, connecting with the larger organizations can prove rather challenging.
A New Twist on an Old Strategy
When a supplier hires a new sales representative, the employee usually wants to make a big splash with his or her employer. What’s the best way to do this? You have to land a big fish. So, the new representative typically begins by hitting the phones, sending emails, and trying to connect with the decision makers in these larger companies through social media. Unfortunately, this process rarely works. If it did, everyone would be doing it.
Unfortunately, one of the most effective marketing strategies today is one that has proven successful for several centuries –face-to-face interaction. By combining traditional site visits with systematic follow-ups through modern marketing techniques, suppliers of lumber and building products are witnessing a much greater rate of increased building product sales with the large builder.
The On-Site Visit Offline & Online
Visiting a job site unannounced can be somewhat intimidating, but it’s also a great way to make a lasting and positive first impression. Where many suppliers fail is in assuming that a single site-visit is going to land the big fish. This is not always the case, but instantaneous sales do occur more frequently than many suppliers realize. A sure-fire way to make a great first impression is to solve an immediate and urgent problem of the project manager.
Online a building product supplier can providing answers to common problems that a large builder might face on a day to day basis. This is a great way to build credibility, trust and be there at 2 a.m. when they are searching for the answer online (and you can't physically be there to problem solve!)
Be the Hero
Walk onto any job site of a larger builder or construction project, and you are walking into a series of construction challenges, obstacles, and setbacks that the project manager is trying to manage simultaneously. Last-minute changes by the owner, client, or architect are perhaps the biggest frustration of most top contractors. The other is likely late deliveries or unavailable product by building suppliers.
In both circumstances, the project manager usually needs an immediate solution, but he might not have time to search for an alternative. That’s where the supplier can swoop in and save the day. On your first visit to the job site, ask the project manager how you can fix some of his or her current issues? If you see a problem on the job site, offer a quick solution at a very affordable price. Solving the problems of construction managers can easily make you their hero for life.
Retarget Different Members of the Sales Funnel
Having the approval of the project manager is a significant first step, but it is usually not enough to land big-volume builders as long-term clients. In many of these larger organizations, the purchasing manager is only allowed to buy products from a pre-approved list of suppliers. If your company is not on the list, then the agent can’t buy your products, no matter how much the project manager likes you. But the project manager can pave the way for future introductions and in far less time.
Consider the Handshake Checklist:
- Right People: Know the right people that you need to deliver your message to.
- Right Message: Know what to offer that will make the client say “yes.”
- Right Time: Approach each 'person' at the larger builder at the right time in the sales funnel.
- On Repeat: Maintain the client relationship through consistent and systematic interaction through applicable marketing strategies.
Before conducting a site visit, face-to-face meeting or providing solutions online with any larger builder, suppliers must know their building products inside and out. They must know the current issues and challenges typically facing the client. And they must be ready to offer quick solutions at a competitive price and with a better delivery distribution system than the competition. Be the Larger Builder’s partner rather than just their supplier, and your chances of landing the big fish improve dramatically.